My First Girl

My first girl has graduated college. It’s amazing and I am so proud of her. It’s no secret that Thomas, our first born is special needs. Alyssa our second child and first girl is 2 years and a week younger than Thomas. I already knew there was something going on with Thomas at that age but the “experts” did not. And then along came my girl. She was so, so typical, she met every milestone as if she had read a child growth and development manual. It was wonderful after going through so much with Thomas. I didn’t love Alyssa more for being a typical child I loved her for being her as much as I loved Thomas for being him.

When I was pregnant with Alyssa I never thought I would have a girl. My husband came from a big crowd of boys. Tommy has 2 brothers, 3 boy cousins, his father was the youngest of all boys. There wad only one girl cousin at that time. We didn’t find out the sex of Alyssa, we wanted to be surprised and I seriously couldn’t have been more surprised when the midwife announced, “Its a GIRL!” We didn’t even have a girl name picked out. Alyssa was nameless for 2 days until Tommy and I could come to a name. I always liked the name Alyssa and Tommy agreed. So there she was: Alyssa Menay. Nameless no more.

She was beautiful then and she’s beautiful now. She’s patient and a great listener. And the best part; she talks to me. Alyssa doesn’t just talk to me because she has to because we live in the same house. She tells me what she’s doing that day, the next week and her plans for the future. I’m honored to have that type of relationship with not only my first girl but with all my girls.

Tommy and I always wondered if people looking in from the outside thought we had screws loose that we kept having kids after Thomas. I know how hard and wonderful it is to raise a special needs child and I know how hard and wonderful it is to raise typical children. There really is no comparison between the two. It’s apples and oranges with other obscure fruits thrown in for good measure.

So this weekend we celebrate my girl and all her hard work I’m exited for her future.

Writing Papers

I’m taking this communications class and I have to write a paper of course, actually it’s more of a presentation. Part one is the written part and Part two I need to video myself giving said presentation. Part one is all well and good except for me citing my references. I’m ready to scream to be honest. I’ve quoted, I’ve cited, I’ve listed my references…still wrong. I’ve tried a couple of websites; I’ve copied and pasted their version of how my references are to be written…there’s still something wrong. Ever get the feeling you’re beating your head against a dead end wall?

The style of paper is APA. Common enough and definitely frustrating enough. Ok so I took a brake and found yet another website citation generator, I have to pay to get the good stuff but it seems worth it. I understand the purpose of citing references and that plagiarism is very serious. But why all the different styles?? There should be one way to do references and that’s it! My words and vent for the day.

Cleaning Out, Rearranging

A few weeks ago Tommy and I cleared out these closets in our basement. It was mostly papers, bank statements, Thomas’ old evaluations and IEP’s. Some tax returns from1994! Omg, back when we were first married and I paid the bills I didn’t know what to save, what to throw out so I kept everything… It was great to do the clean out and shred papers we have no use for anymore. Thomas’ old papers were the most satisfying to say good bye to, since those years were so tough to get through.

Yesterday I was down the basement and noticed a piece of furniture that was my inlaw’s. It’s a dry sink that my husband’s grandmother bought for my mother in law oh so many years ago. I’m staring at this piece and I had a great idea. Put it in the front of my living room where I currently have a small table holding all my indoor plants! I measured the space and the dry sink and all was a go. Tommy and I moved it yesterday and it looks perfect there.

There was a catch though, there was “stuff” in the cabinet part of the dry sink…more cleaning out. But it wasn’t too bad thank God. I did find some really cute artwork from when Alyssa was in 2nd grade. I’m so glad I kept certain things during my “keeping everything” period of time. When we cleared out the basement closets we found a lot of pictures. Tommy and I when we were on our honeymoon, the kids when they were so young. These pics were from back in the day when you had film developed and God forbid you didn’t order double copies because someone always wanted a couple of your pictures. Just when you think you’re finished clearing out and rearranging something else comes up.

My Bike and Other Challenges

This past summer I spent a lot of time taking lessons to learn to ride a motorcycle. I took private lessons as well as a 2 day class where at the end of the 2 days you take a road test. If you pass the road test the teaching company gives you a waiver to present to the DMV and you receive your motorcycle license; an “M” on your drivers license that stands for motorcycle. I was so, so excited to pass the road test and get my motorcycle license. It was a long road for me to get there. I had a favorite instructor named Rick who was just awesome, very patient and he wouldn’t let me get frustrated with myself. He had a style of teaching that just got through to me. I was so happy when I found out Rick would be teaching me when the road test came about.

It’s not as easy to ride as I originally thought it would be. I figured I’d just learn real quick, take the road test and be on my merry way. Not so fast…for me anyway. I’m glad I did it though. I don’t have a bucket list per se, but getting my motorcycle license was a definite must do/bucket list check off for me.

My next challenge is completing my bachelor’s degree in nursing. I’ve written that years ago I pretty much sworn off being a nurse. I started my career in a hospital, hated it and honestly thought there wasn’t much else to do work wise. I had Thomas and the girls and life just went the way it did. At one point I worked for as an office nurse for a physician who was a pediatric pulmonologist/allergist. My primary function was to give allergy shots, perform allergy skin testing and perform pulmonary function testing. It was a nice enough job but I was terribly underpaid (office nurses most times make horrible money) and I knew it wasn’t something I wanted to do for more than the 3 years I was there.

When I was hired by the Dept of Ed and began working at my school I truly discovered my calling in nursing. I love my job. I enjoy the students I’m entrusted to provide care for and I enjoy my co workers. Hungerford has the best teachers, paras and therapists ever! I could go on and on but I won’t…but seriously the staff I work with are trustworthy and will always let me know if a student isn’t acting like themselves and/or will recognize and time a seizure so quickly which only enhances me doing my job.

So me loving my job only makes me want to further my knowledge of nursing hence being enrolled in a bachelors program. My end goal is to complete my masters degree. After that I have no idea. The more education you have the more doors open up and more opportunities arise. I have no desire to leave my school or to leave school nursing. When I’m asked what degree I’m studying for the first thing the person who asked assumes is that I’m looking to leave my job. Not so, not at all. I want to be able to be better at my job. To learn advanced skills and assessments and continue to serve my students. I’m off to work at my last class of the semester. It’s a communications class and should be interesting.

And the Quarantine Goes On…

It’s the middle of May and we’re still in quarantine. I’m not entirely sure what the plan is for us in the NYC area as I don’t watch the news all that often. My mom, my girls and Tommy usually keep me updated on current events and the governor’s and mayor’s latest stance. I also, as embarrassing as this sounds get a lot of news information from Facebook and social media when friends post news articles and/or links to broadcasts. It works for me.

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day and my family was awesome! I didn’t cook. We had my mom and family over, we ate outside; the weather was gorgeous and we were able to maintain social distance. It was a great Mother’s Day. My kids gave me the sweetest, most heartfelt cards. I feel very fortunate and blessed. Later in the day we called Thomas so we could come over and see him. Of course we brought Wendy’s cheeseburgers and he was happy.

I’m at the very end of my health assessment class towards my bachelor’s degree. I have to perform a head to toe assessment on an adult age 18 and over on video and submit it to my professor. I completed one video and was told to do over certain parts. I was so bummed man. Thankfully my “patient,” Alyssa is very patient and doesn’t mind doing it again. My mistakes weren’t horrendous thank God. I spoke to the instructor and she clarified things so I feel I’m on the right track. After the Assessment class I am taking a Communications class. I’m looking forward to something different. When all is said and done at the end of this semester; June 30, I’ll have completed 12 credits. I hope beyond hope to be completed with the bachelor’s next year. I plan on continuing for my Master’s.

I used to think a Master’s degree was out of my reach academically. But the more I thought about not the more I realized I was talking myself out of it. I don’t know what I plan on doing once I have the Master’s. It seems so far in the future. I really enjoy my job as a school nurse for special education and medically fragile students. I can’t wait to get back to school. I call my parents on the phone to check up on them and the student, it’s great to talk to them and for the most part everyone is doing well thank God. I miss work, I miss the kids I take care of and I miss the staff like crazy!

Hopefully the quarantine will be over soon.

Mother’s Day and My Kids

This weekend we will celebrate Mother’s Day. In the midst of this quarantine and time of social distancing. It will be different than celebrations and get togethers of past, but it’s still Mother’s Day.

I’m fortunate that I have my mother in my life. We are close, we’ve always been close and I’m thankful for that. We haven’t always seen eye to eye and nothing is perfect but we always seem to overcome our differences and maintain our close relationship. I’m very thankful for my mom.

Most everyone knows I have 4 children. Thomas our oldest who is special needs and three younger girls; Alyssa, Lelly, (Daniella) and Samantha. I like my kids; I mean I love them of course but I also like them. I enjoy spending time with them. Recently my girls have been asking me if I was unhappy or “miserable” when they were all younger and life was more chaotic and did I complain about them?

I answered that yes when everyone was younger life was a bit crazy. We had no idea what was going on with Thomas. I was trying to raise him; a boy with special needs without much needed help from the “professionals” we were consulting with, while trying my best to raise neuro-typical girls in the same environment. Life was not easy. I remember being very frustrated as Thomas’ mother and as the girls’ mother being very grateful that that were typical girls.

I don’t remember complaining about my kids when they were younger or maybe I don’t want to think I did? Was it fun back then? Sometimes, it was not a terrible time of my life. Did I yell a lot? Absolutely, yes I was a yeller and so were many of my friends and neighbors much to my relief at the time. Was I miserable as my kids ask me now? No, I don’t think I was miserable.

Thanks to a very recent conversation with my best friend who was my sounding board when our kids were young; Jenn doesn’t remember me complaining about my children when they were younger. She does remember me being very overwhelmed with Thomas and his issues. Jenn also said something interesting, ” Menay, they won’t understand you until *they* have kids…it wasn’t until I had my girls did I truly understand my own mother.” Jenn is right. Motherhood isn’t something you can describe to someone without sounding dramatic, or overzealous, or even miserable. Like most life experiences you have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes to really get what they are going through. I know what it’s like to be a mom to a special needs child and I know what it’s like to raise typical children. Both experience are no walk in the park and one is not easier than the other. They’re different.

If given the chance would I change anything from my mothering of the past? I think I would have liked to have had more patience and time to smell the proverbial roses with Alyssa and Lelly. I look at old pictures, snapshots caught in time where I felt my mind was all over the place. And I wish I had had the presence to grab onto those moments a little harder. But I suppose most mothers could say the same thing.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my friends and family!!

Hair and Quarantine

I’ve had short hair now for about 5-6 years I think. Ive has it super short; like sides shaved with a buzzer short; to an undercut (sides shaved under a longer area of hair). When the quarantine began I had the undercut. And I like having short hair, I’m told I have a small face so I can pull it off. Ok sounds good. Most people believe having short hair is easy, it’s not. If you’re having a bad hair day there is no fixing it by putting it up in a pony tail or bun. You’re kind of stuck with that bad hair situation all day long. And when it rains…don’t get me started. My hair tends to just go very flat when it’s rainy or very humid out. Again, there is no escape or option of fixing this hair issue. You deal with it for the rest of the day.

So now with the quarantine, I missed my appointment by one day. I was supposed to get my hair cut and colored on a Thursday; the salon called me that Wednesday afternoon to tell me they had to close. Well what can you do? I can color my hair at home no problem thank God. I’ve learned plenty in my many years of coloring and experimenting on my own hair. However there’s no way in hell I would cut my own hair or allow anyone who isn’t licensed to do so.

So I’ve noticed my hair has grown out into a very short bob. And I like it. It’s so different that what it was before and it gives me inspiration to keep growing it out. For those of you who have grown out short hair you know how utterly painful that is. You seriously get to the point where you feel your only option is to just cut it all off all over again so you don’t have to deal with the frustration of trying to “fix” or style this hair that won’t do anything remotely attractive.

Alyssa was excited when I said I would keep growing it into a bob. She’s funny, she has a picture of what she wants my hair to look like and that’s sweet. My kids have never said boo to any of my wild haircuts. Come to think of it neither has my husband. I guess they feel the way I do that it’s only hair. It does grow back…eventually. So here’s to new hair: complements of the Covid quarantine!

While In Quarantine…

My Alyssa texted me this morning, she was so worried. She has a low grade fever and sore throat. Of course everyone’s mind goes to thoughts of COVID. She is in the city with her boyfriend Sam, she left here yesterday evening. So she took herself to urgent care, found out her COVID antibody test she had blood taken for a couple of days ago is negative, however the strep test is positive. I’m glad it’s strep and not the corona virus. If she did have the corona virus it would be totally ironic as Alyssa is taking the quarantine totally seriously. She rarely goes out, and if she does it’s only grocery shopping, always wears a mask when going out and then only person she sees outside of us is her boyfriend and I know he’s working from home and taking the quarantine seriously.

Alyssa has discovered gardening and the love of houseplants while in quarantine. I have this pretty big sized Christmas cactus that I grew from and off shoot of my mom’s plant about 20 years ago. This plant has survived and at times thrived through times of attention and nurturing and through times of neglect and crazy life situations. I had been giving it attention and so had Alyssa and the plant is thriving once more. It even grew new off shoots and bloomed a flower, go figure. Alyssa also grew two small plants from lemon seeds. Ordinary old lemon seeds from a lemon, from Shoprite. It’s totally cool! I’m looking forward to them becoming bigger plants and then small trees. Alyssa read up on this and it seems the plant won’t grow actual lemons for 3 years. But that’s ok; three years will pass whether she grows the plant or not. So all is well.

I totally miss work. I miss my routine and the students I take care of. I’ve called the parents last week and I was so glad that they haven’t been sick with the corona virus. There are a few students who are quite medically fragile so I was really relieved to get that news. As for me as a nurse right now; I’m waiting for the city to figure out what to do with many of us. Last week I was told to report to East Harlem, spent 2 days there to be told the facility didn’t have assignments for us (about 7 DOE nurses). I’m not complaining about working from home and calling parents and taking care of my own family, but the anxiety of not knowing where you will be told to report to next can be overwhelming. On the upside, in going to East Harlem, I became friendly with 2 nurses and I’m so glad we struck up a friendship. We’re in a group text and we share any information we learn from other nurses concerning our situation.

I realize school has been closed until at least September, but the area I work at; district 75 which is special education is a 12 month program. From what I understand the summer program hasn’t been decided yet. I want to go back to work at my school, but I want it to be safe for everyone. I feel like that is a tightrope our elected officials are walking on and there is no easy answer.